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NSFW: Is Porn Movie Merchandising the Next Big Money Maker?

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The right merchandise can turn a movie into a mega movie franchise. A movie licensing industry that accounts for 25% of all toys sold in a typical year, the right toys, video games, clothing, accessories, iPhone apps, and action figures can rake in the serious bucks. Numbers released last week for “Transformers 2” show that the movie led to toy sales worth $592 million only six months after its release. Other movies like Star Wars have seen 8 billion in merchandise sales since 1977, with newer movies like Harry Potter rivaling that number only a few years after their release. But what about the adult industry? They make movies, but do they sell merch beyond the typical posters and hats? Do they plan on tapping into the multi billion dollar industry?

One company taking the mainstream movie approach to merchandising is Digital Playground, a high budget porn purveyor that recently launched a 22 product line inspired by their “Pirates” movies. The “Pirates 1 and 2 porns, have weighed in as the world’s most expensive porns complete with CGI and serious plots. The product line focuses on pirate inspired vibrators that range from the discreet to the extreme, all based on characters from the movie. For example, the Katsuni vibrator, modeled after the half Asian bad girl in the “Pirates” flicks, is designed with Asian elements and features and Octopus tickler that draws from elements in the film. Digital Playground’s Vice President of Novelties and New Media Farley Cahen stated, “We developed a pirate inspired line of 22 different products and we expect to grow that number. No one has ever done pirate themed products on any level in adult and we’re the perfect company to capitalize on that opportunity.”

But in an industry where the average low budget porn company is happy to sell a thousand units, the question that remains is whether major movie merchandising is a viable option for the adult industry. Cahen says no. “[To create this line], I spent 9 months of R&D to create the highest quality/uniquely designed products at reasonable prices, at least five iterations of each design, hired two full-time designers and two new marketing professionals, met with every large distributor worldwide and a multitude of retailers, interviewed and tested 4 different packaging manufactures, hired over 50 test marketers to give us product feedback, spent untold hours planning sales and marketing and spent a significant amount of money to develop the line. Not many companies have the willingness to go through all that especially if there movies have only sold the industry average of 1500-3000 pieces.”

And movie merchandising doesn’t even work for every mainstream movie. When it comes to partnering with major movies, there is a high level of risk involved even with movies that you think would be successful like 1988’s Roger Rabbit. The animated movie flopped royally when it came to merchandising.
That’s why Cahen says DP is taking a stab at lifestyle products, rather than movie fan merchandise: “We feel the pirate ‘theme’ transcends the movies and actually stands on it’s own as a lifestyle theme.” The entirely female oriented line of products targets an audience that may have never even see the “Pirates” movies, but identifies with the product through function and design rather than the movie itself. These aren’t products saturated in movie branding, rather, they are loosely based on the movies theme.

But movie merchandising may become a bigger trend in the adult industry than you think. In an industry where pirated content is the norm, many studios are moving towards higher quality productions to set themselves apart and to get people to actually pay for content. This is partly because the people that are actually willing to pay for porn want HD, high quality porn. What this implies is that studios are going to have to try harder to create quality content to actually make money on their investment. And higher budget porns can make it more worthwhile to create merchandise apart from the hats, t-shirts, and giveaways. So perhaps movie merchandising will become a viable channel for making money in an industry struggling to create content and products that people will actually pay for.

For reviews and pictures of the Digital Playground Pirates Novelties, please click through.

Guest columnist Lydia Leavitt writes about sex and, oddly enough, social media. For more information on the latest intimate technology, check out 69adget.com.

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